Climate change plans must protect rural SMEs - CPA Ireland


CPA Ireland has warned that the Government’s Action Plan to cut carbon emissions on a sustained basis up to 2030 will potentially increase the cost burden on SMEs already facing perilous and uncertain times as Brexit looms.  80% of CPA accountants surveyed by the Institute believe a hard Brexit is now the most likely outcome, increasing the challenges facing their clients.

“While we all recognise the need to address the climate crisis, Government needs to recognise that rural enterprises and communities may not be able to withstand the double impact of both increased carbon taxes and Brexit.  The Climate Action Plan has laudable long term aims but more short term actions need to be taken to protect regional enterprises”, said CPA Ireland President, Gearoid O’Driscoll. 

Speaking at CPA Ireland’s annual President’s Dinner in Dublin, O’Driscoll, said:  “Modest investment by the State could send a strong signal to rural entrepreneurs that Ireland is serious about preserving rural communities and addressing regional imbalance.  The minister has challenged consumers to change behaviours and help Ireland transition to a low carbon economy. We challenge the Government to show leadership and think outside the box in terms of sending a strong message to regional towns that it is serious about promoting sustainable businesses in their local communities.”

Mr O’Driscoll said that CPA Ireland is currently developing proposals for tax incentives to support the development of carbon neutral enterprise hubs in our regional towns. “Such hubs would provide ideal facilities for start-up businesses, particularly for environmentally friendly business initiatives.  They could showcase environmentally friendly construction, grow employment in rural Ireland and contribute to lower carbon emissions by for instance, reducing commuting. Balanced regional development will be critical to Ireland delivering a sustainable economy for future generations”.

In addition CPA Ireland believes that the Employment and Investment Incentive scheme could be amended to allow entrepreneurs who establish sustainable businesses avail of income tax reliefs. “Targeted tax incentives can bring significant economic benefits and generating sustainable employment in the regions will be key to sustaining communities” he said.

Mr O’Driscoll said the Government must be commended on the supports put in place to support SMEs planning for Brexit.  “The majority of CPA accountants are reporting that their clients have been proactively planning for Brexit there remains a sizable minority who have not yet commenced any planning. The CPA Institute is encouraging its members to promote the various government schemes available to support Irish business through Brexit.  These include the €300m, Brexit Loan Scheme and the Clear Customs initiative. However our economy needs a long term commitment to SMEs, it is essential that these schemes don’t evaporate when Brexit leaves the headlines, and should remain in place until at least 2030.”

Mr. O’Driscoll, President of CPA Ireland, concluded by stating “There are significant economic shocks on the horizon and yet Ireland looks likely to continue to grow its economy albeit at a slower rate. It is vital that growth will be regionally balanced and that environmentally friendly, sustainable businesses will be supported in across Ireland.”

Pictured at the event CPA Ireland President GearĂ³id O'Driscoll with Guest Speaker Catherine Page. Counsellor, British Embassy, Ireland.